June 26, 2010

F1 Quals: Europe @ Valencia 2010

Red Bull and McLaren are the only teams to have claimed the top spot in qualifying this season, and in the first two practice sessions, neither showed much in the way of continuing that streak.  Will this be the first race this year where one of those two worthies aren't on pole?  Let's look at the provisional grid for Sunday's Grand Prix of Europe, Valencia style:

Pos Driver Team Q1Q2Q3
1 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 1:38.324 1:38.015 1:37.587
2 Mark Webber RBR-Renault 1:38.549 1:38.041 1:37.662
3 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:38.697 1:38.158 1:37.969
4 HWMNBN Ferrari 1:38.472 1:38.179 1:38.075
5 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:38.657 1:38.046 1:38.127
6 Robert Kubica Renault 1:38.132 1:38.062 1:38.137
7 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:38.360 1:38.399 1:38.210
8 Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1:38.843 1:38.523 1:38.428
9 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:38.449 1:38.326 1:38.428
10 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1:39.004 1:38.552 1:38.523
11 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari 1:39.096 1:38.586
12 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 1:38.752 1:38.627
13 Adrian F'n Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:39.021 1:38.851
14 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1:38.969 1:38.884
15 Slappy Schumacher Mercedes GP 1:38.994 1:39.234
16 Pete Rose
BK Sauber-Ferrari 1:39.003 1:39.264
17 NKOTT STR-Ferrari 1:39.128 1:39.458
18 Kamui Kobayashi BK Sauber-Ferrari 1:39.343

19 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1:40.658

20 Heikki Kovalaineninnie Lotus-Cosworth 1:40.882

21 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1:42.086

22 Timo Glockenspiel Virgin-Cosworth 1:42.140

23 Karun Chandhok HRT-Cosworth 1:42.600

24 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1:42.851

Nope.  Vettel came up off the mat and slugged his way to his first pole in a while, much to the annoyance of his teammate, Mark Webber.  There appears to have been a huge wedge driven between their relationship; they completely ignored each other in the time just after the session and during interviews.  It used to be that they would shake each other's hand, joke around, that sort of thing.  That could prove telling later in the season.

The surprise of the session has to be the performance of Williams.  They got both of their cars into Q3 for the first time this year, and last year's winner here, Rubens Barrichello, was outqualified by his substantially less experienced teammate.  Nice job, guys. 

For a while there, Robert Kubica looked as if he would be the one to punt the traditional to the curb.  Alas, it was not to be, as the oomph of the big teams came out late in Q3.  Still, for a minute there... ah well, so it goes.

Most amusing to me was the struggles of one Slappy Schumacher.  He only just managed to get out of Q1, and as can be seen above, didn't accomplish the task in Q2, finishing quite low in the session.  His teammate, Nico Rosberg, also failed to make it out of Q2, making one wonder if Mercedes has "lost the plot" all of a sudden.  One could argue that they never actually had the plot, but that's for another day. 

Force India hasn't lost the plot, but they have lost the spending war.  As the other big teams have made huge improvements (blown rear wings, moving their exhausts, etc etc etc), FI hasn't been able to spend the cash to do the same.  The result, of course, is that they're no longer likely to make it to Q3.  Darn shame, that.
And in the battle of the cripples, Lotus continues their dominance.  Please note that all the new teams would have made the race under next year's 107% rule, by a couple of seconds to boot.  So much for that.

Race tomorrow on Fox, meaning I won't be watching it until 11am Pond Central time... F1U! will be sometime thereafter.  See ya then!

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